In one word - brilliant!
If you're starting off a business from scratch, or struggling through the pains of keeping your overheads low and competing with the big guys, then the Bootstrapper's Bible by Seth Godin is for you. It's available free for download here.
Some gems from the book:
- A brilliant idea will kill you. Go for an idea that is likely to make you money, not necessarily something that you personally think is great. He gives the example of the Inc. 500, which is a list of the fastest growing small companies, and almost all of them are bootstrapped, and many of them are in boring, mundane lines of business (the #1 company makes toothbrushes).
- Don't get too caught up in trying to become a Bill Gates or a Jeff Bezos or Steve Jobs. What may have worked for them is often an exception to the rule. While their business models get all the hype, very few people can actually replicate them.
- Focus on sales and advertising. Often entrepreneurs - including yours truly - focus on the services and the products, and shy away from marketing. Personally, I have always felt I am really bad at marketing (so my next big challenge is already staring me in the face), and so haven't focused on meeting customers and pitching to them. But the importance of this is simply too great and very often overlooked by bootstrappers.
- Get a mentor. And some pretty cool ways of going about getting mentors and dealing with them so the relationship doesn't go bust.
- Ideas for calculating your cash flow. Based on what you've been spending and earning in the past 9 months. And the best point about getting credit from suppliers instead of trying to get money from banks or loans from family/friends. Very neat!
- Just start! Don't plan so much that that's all you end up doing. Go out there. Get in front of customers. Talk to partners and vendors and peers. Get your idea into execution, even if you're holding onto your current job. Whatever you do, don't just sit around waiting for the right time, the right idea and the right execution plan. As Goethe apparently said, “Whatever you can do or dream you can, begin it. Boldness has genius, power and magic in it.”